Photo from Pixabay.
Photo from Pixabay.

For the first time in the 15-week-old 2022-23 television season, NFL programming did not top the prime-time ratings, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Wednesday.

ESPN’s coverage of Georgia’s 42-41 victory over Ohio State on Saturday night in a College Football Playoff semifinal averaged 21.736 million viewers, the most among prime-time broadcast and cable programs between Dec. 26 and Sunday.

The audience for the game whose outcome was not decided until Noah Ruggles missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with three seconds to play was the largest for a prime-time College Football Playoff semifinal since an average of 28.27 million viewers watched Ohio State’s 42-35 upset of top-ranked Alabama on New Year’s Day 2015, the first year of the playoff.

Viewership was up 31.7% from the 16.506 million average for Georgia’s 34-11 victory over Michigan in the New Year’s Eve 2021 prime-time semifinal.

TCU’s 51-45 victory over Michigan in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal averaged 20.934 million viewers, 30.4% more than the 16.058 million average for Alabama’s 27-6 victory over Cincinnati in the afternoon semifinal one year earlier.

ESPN has televised the College Football Playoff semifinals and title game since its inception.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers averaged 17.177 million viewers, third for the week behind the Georgia-Ohio State game and the 11-minute studio show which preceded it and averaged 21.06 million viewers.

NFL programming had topped the prime-time ratings each of the first 16 weeks of the regular season. “Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched prime-time program 14 times. Fox’s seven-minute NFL postgame show finished first the week of Nov. 7-13. NBC’s coverage of the Thanksgiving night game between the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots finished first the week of Nov. 21-27.

Five nights of bowl coverage plus the “Monday Night Football” game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts made ESPN the most-watched network, averaging 7.422 million viewers.

NBC was second after 12 first-place finishes over the season’s first 14 weeks, averaging 4.27 million viewers. The only other weeks NBC did not win this season came when Fox aired the World Series.

CBS was third, averaging 3.96 million viewers. CBS’ average included a 22-minute overrun of its afternoon NFL coverage into prime time, whose viewership figure was not available. The overrun is not considered a separate program but is included in the weekly average.

ABC was fourth, averaging 2.9 million viewers

ESPN, NBC, CBS and ABC all aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.

The CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” was the most-watched non-sports program for the 12th time in the season, averaging 9.258 million viewers, eighth for the week behind the Georgia-Ohio State game and the 11-minute studio show preceding it; “Sunday Night Football”; an 8-minute NFL postgame show which preceded “60 Minutes”; two “Sunday Night Football” pregame shows; and “Monday Night Football.”

“Yellowstone” was the most-watched entertainment program for the seventh time in the seven weeks an original episode has aired during its fifth season, with the midseason finale of the neo-Western averaging a combined 9.008 million viewers on Paramount Network and CMT, ninth for the week.

The 10:30-11:30 p.m. segment of “Dick Clark’s Prime Time New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2023” was ABC’s most-watched program and the most-watched New Year’s Eve entertainment program, averaging 7.873 million viewers, 13th for the week and second among entertainment programs.

NBC’s most-watched non-sports program was “Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party,” 17th for the week averaging 5.314 million viewers.

Fox averaged 1.72 million viewers for its 16 hours of prime-time programming, topped by its coverage of Oregon’s 28-27 victory over North Carolina in the Holiday Bowl which averaged 3.969 million viewers, 22nd for the week.

The CW averaged 390,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming. Its most-watched program was the 9 p.m. Dec. 28 rerun of “World’s Funniest Animals,” which averaged 612,000 viewers, 164th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

The 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of four college bowl games and two bowl studio shows on ESPN; two NFL games; four NFL pregame shows; one NFL postgame show; “60 Minutes”; “Yellowstone”; two segments of “Dick Clark’s Prime Time New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2023”; “Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party”; “New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash 2023” on CBS; and “The 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors” on CBS.

Three other cable networks joined ESPN in averaging more than 1 million viewers for their prime-time programming — Fox News Channel (1.323 million), Paramount Network (1.246 million) and Hallmark Channel (1.002 million).

The 20 most-watched prime-time cable programs consisted eight college bowl games and two bowl studio shows on ESPN; “Monday Night Football” and its 13-minute kickoff show; two episodes of “Yellowstone”; the “Yellowstone” prequel “1923”; two editions of the Fox News Channel political talk show “Tucker Carlson Tonight”; CNN’s “New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen”; and TLC’s “90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After?” and “Sister Wives.”

The most-watched program on Netflix was the film “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” which was watched for 127.25 million hours in its first full week of release, 54.9% more than the 82.14 million hours the previous week when it was available for three days.

“Wednesday” was Netflix’s most-watched television program for the sixth time in the six weeks the supernatural-infused mystery has been available, with 103.96 million hours watched of its eight episodes, according to figures released by the streaming service Tuesday.

Viewership was down 12.3% from the 118.54 million hours watched the previous week.

The Univision New Year’s Eve special, “Feliz 2023” was the most-watched Spanish-language program, averaging 1.625 million viewers, 62nd among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 21st consecutive week and 159th time in 161 weeks, averaging 1.2 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 810,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (340,000), Estrella TV (80,000) and Azteca America (30,000).

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for 160th time in 161 weeks and 212th time in 214 weeks, averaging 8.217 million viewers for its Tuesday through Friday broadcasts. “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 7.092 million viewers.

The “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” was third, averaging 4.758 million viewers for its Tuesday through Friday newscasts.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were ESPN’s coverage of the Georgia-Ohio State College Football Playoff semifinal and the 11-minute studio show preceding it; NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; CBS’ eight-minute NFL postgame show; the 10-minute “Sunday Night Football” pre-kickoff show; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts; the 19-minute third segment of NBC’s “Football Night in America”; “60 Minutes”; “Yellowstone”; and ESPN’s coverage of the Orange Bowl.

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